Welcoming a new puppy or dog into your family is an exciting experience, but adopting a new pet can pose several challenges, particularly managing their behavior problems. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team describes canine behavior issues’ root causes and explains how you can implement effective strategies to help foster a positive relationship between you and your four-legged friend. 

Excessive barking in dogs

Barking is one form of communication between dogs and their families. However, if your dog vocalizes excessively, the behavior can become a nuisance for you and your neighbors. Consider dogs’ barking causes and how to resolve the issue: 

  • Barking causes in dogs — Although barking is one way your dog communicates with you, they are not just making small talk if they bark excessively. Potential causes for excessive barking in your dog include:
    • Attention-seeking behavior — Dogs often bark to garner their owner’s attention and to receive food, attention, or time outside.
    • Boredom — A bored dog may bark without pause to have something to fill their time.
    • Territorial instincts — Dogs may bark at strangers entering their home, or at wild animals or intruders coming too close to their flock, herd, or territory.
    • Fear or anxiety — An unfamiliar person, loud noise, or new situation often triggers a fearful dog’s flurry of barking, while dogs with separation anxiety may bark when left alone.
    • Cognitive dysfunction — Senior dogs with declining cognitive function can become confused and anxious, resulting in excessive barking.
  • Barking management tips — Certain dog breeds are prone to barking more than others. However, to reduce any dog’s excessive barking, follow these tips:
    • Increasing enrichment — Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise to ward off boredom.
    • Rewarding quiet behavior — With enough positive reinforcement, your dog will learn that remaining quiet in the face of potential triggers is more rewarding than barking.
    • Removing triggers — Limit your dog’s exposure to triggers that make them bark by covering windows with a privacy film and playing sounds or quiet music to muffle outside noises.
    • Addressing underlying issues — Dogs with cognitive dysfunction, separation anxiety, or a painful condition may bark excessively and can benefit from veterinary treatment.

Chewing and destructive behavior in dogs

Some destructive canine behaviors are a result of boredom, normal development, or anxiety, and your dog needs to learn how to practice these behaviors appropriately. Chewing, scratching, digging, and other destructive behaviors can ruin the bond between you and your dog:  

  • Destructive behavior causes in dogs — Puppies and dogs who engage in destructive behavior are often bored and looking for entertainment and enrichment. However, other causes of destructive behavior include:
    • Exploration — Puppies and inquisitive dogs explore the world around them using their mouths, noses, and paws. Dogs who have not learned the household rules are also prone to engaging in destructive behavior.
    • Anxiety — Anxiety and noise phobias can result in destructive behavior as a nervous dog attempts to escape from a scary situation or find their family.
  • Destructive behavior management tips — Teaching your dog proper manners and providing plenty of enrichment can help curb destructive behaviors. You can also:
    • Puppy-proof your home
    • Crate train for absences
    • Offer appropriate chew toys
    • Manage anxiety through behavioral modification and pharmaceutical methods

Jumping on people

A tiny ball of fluff doesn’t pose much of a concern when they jump on a person. However, a full-grown Great Dane is a different matter. Consider why dogs jump on people and how to manage this behavior:

  • Jumping causes in dogs — Dogs jump on people in a bid for attention, and the behavior often works. Whether positive (i.e., petting, laughing) or negative (i.e., pushing down, shouting), any interaction is rewarding to a jumping dog, because the behavior has served its purpose—to get your attention. 
  • Jumping management tips — Reward your dog’s appropriate behavior and ignore all other actions. For example, reward your dog for sitting or standing with all four paws on the ground when greeting visitors. Ignore your jumping dog by turning your back on them, only facing them again when they sit. 

House training issues in dogs

Inappropriate elimination is a common problem among cats and dogs, although causes can be different between species. Consider the reason your dog is eliminating inappropriately and how to manage this behavior:

  • Causes of house training issues in dogs — While puppies need help learning where to eliminate appropriately, older dogs may also need a refresher on house training, especially if newly adopted. Other canine house training issues include: 
    • Health conditions — Numerous health conditions can result in inappropriate elimination, including arthritis, urinary problems, kidney disease, cognitive dysfunction, gastrointestinal (GI) issues, and parasites. 
    • Anxiety — An anxious or fearful dog may urinate or defecate inappropriately. 
  • House-training management tips — If a consistent feeding, bathroom, and reward schedule does not help solve your dog’s house-training issue, they may have a health problem that needs to be addressed. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out a medical issue that may be contributing to your dog’s urination and defecation issues.

If your canine companion has less-than-perfect manners, turn to your Southeast Texas veterinary team for help. Contact your local Neighborhood Veterinary Centers hospital to schedule a comprehensive workup to ensure your furry pal does not have an underlying health issue contributing to their behavior problem.